Apr 9, 2016

Bob Hoffman, York Barbells, and Muscletown U.S.A.

If you're going to do any serious muscle building, sooner or later you'll have to leave behind the Nautilus machines, go into the weight room, and pick up a barbell or a dumbbell.

Barbells are on a bar, so you use both arms at once.

Dumbbells are separate, one for each arm (called "dumb bells" because they're silent).



Athletes have been lifting weights to gain strength and muscle mass since ancient times, but the classic modern barbell, with round weights attached to either side of an iron bar, appeared in 1902, when physical culture pioneer Alvin Calvert founded the Milo Barbell Company in Philadelphia.  At first he sold globe-shaped barbells that had weight increments 2 1/2 pounds, but customers complained that it was too difficult to take apart the apparatus to increase the weight.  By 1910, he was also selling plate-loaded barbells that could be adjusted easily with a twist of a bearing.


In 1935, Bob Hoffman bought the Milo Barbell Company from Calvert, renamed it the York Barbell Company, and set about publicizing the benefits of weight-lifting.  He sponsored thousands of bodybuilding competitions, published dozens of books and magazines, and made sure York Barbells could be found in nearly every gym in the world.


The problem with the barbells was, they didn't wear out.  Once you bought a set, you were fixed for life.  So in order to stay solvent, an ever-increasing customer base was necessary.  During the 1980s, as weight training machines became popular, that customer base started to diminish.  Bob Hoffman's death in 1985 almost brought about the company's demise.



Today York Barbell is marketing itself to general consumers, young people interested in a healthy lifestyle, not just power-lifters.

Still, every bodybuilding enthusiast has made a pilgrimage to York, Pennsylvania, where a giant image of a bodybuilder revolves atop the company headquarters.  Inside, the Weightlifting Hall of Fame has some interesting artifacts and exhibits.






While you're in town, check out the York Murals, murals of important local events and celebrities that adorn local buildings.  Bob Hoffman's Muscletown U.S.A. is at 37 West Philadelphia Street.








February 2005: Hooking Up on a Job Interview

Xenia, Ohio, February 2005

I've been on the academic job market four times, after getting my Ph.D. (2001), when trying to leave Florida (2005), and at the end of my temporary positions in Dayton (2008) and Philadelphia (2013).  About 10 interviews each time, 50 in all.

So I know all the routines.

1. I will be asked about the last game of whatever sports team is popular in my area.

2. I will be told about the hotness of local girls.

3. I will usually be assumed heterosexual, in spite of my resume-full of gay-themed research, although some people will wonder, and ask sneaky questions in an attempt to find out.

4. Others will conclude that I am gay, and hide in their offices when I'm around, lest they be forced to shake hands with a queer.

5. Sometimes they have just invited me to interview so they can congratulate themselves on how liberal they are; I have no chance at an offer.

Those interviews can actually be pleasant: since I have no chance, I can relax, not be "on" all the time, pay more attention to my surroundings.  And it's fun seeing them stumble around the gay issue.

In the spring of 2005, when I was invited to Wilberforce University, near Xenia, Ohio, it was obvious even before I arrived that I had no chance of a offer.  It's a historically black college. 500 students, 98% black.   And affiliated with the homophobic African Methodist Episcopal Church.  No gay student organizations.

No way they're hiring a gay white guy.

So I relaxed, played it cool, and settled in for my free trip.


The full story, with nude photos and sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.


Hank Williams: A Dynasty of Homophobia

Hank Williams (1923-1953) was an Alabama boy who suffered from poverty, heartbreak, physical injury, alcoholism, all of the woes that fuel the ballads, meanwhile writing mournful songs that formed the genre.  Some are recognizable even to people who hate country-western music:

"Lovesick Blues"
"Why Don't You Love Me Anymore"
"Lonesome Whistle"
"Hey, Goodlookin'"
"Honky-Tonk Blues"
"I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive"







He was a lifelong Republican who proclaimed it an "honor" to support President Eisenhower.  We don't know about his attitude toward gay people, but one can probably assume that he didn't cotton to them much.

Here's a photo that seems to show him nude.

He died of a heart attack on January 1, 1953, at the age of 29, leaving a son.












Hank Williams Jr. (born 1949) began his career by covering his dad's songs, but soon struck out on his own, blending country with blues and rock.  More experimental, he has not had quite the impact of Hank Sr., but he has won some accolades for songs like:

"Born to Boogie"
"My Name is Bocephus"
"Ain't Misbehavin'"
"All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight"

A lifelong Republican, his extremist views have caused controversy.  He has called President Obama "the Enemy," compared him to Hitler, and claimed that he's "a Muslim who hates America and loves gays."

Naturally he hates "queer guitar pickers," proclaiming homophobia as an American tradition.



Hank Williams III (born 1972) does country-western, capitalizing on his uncanny resemblance to his grandfather, but he is primarily interested in punk and heavy metal.  He is principal vocalist for the punk band Assjack, and he has also performed with the punk-metal groups Arson Anthem and Superjoint Ritual.

His albums have won some acclaim, too:
Straight to Hell
Thrown Out of the Bar
Rebel Within

As crazy...um, I mean conservative...as his dad, he disapproves of liberal actor Tom Hiddleston (top photo) playing the original Hank Williams in a biopic, and includes the line that he "don't want no faggot looking at him" in his anthem "Dick in Dixie."

Well, here he is.  Take a look.


But at least his sister Holly, Hank Jr's daughter, is a gay ally who loves her lesbian following.

 "Growing up, my best friend was gay," she tells Nashville Pride.  "He was invited to all of my slumber parties."

Hear that, Hanks?  There was one of them in your house!

The uncensored photo of Hank Sr. is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Apr 8, 2016

John Hamill: The First Nude Physique Model

Born in 1947, the boyish, good-natured John Hamill began his career as a physique model, one of the first to pose fully nude.  Sometimes he even had a partner, in explicitly homoerotic scenes aimed at the increasingly visible gay male audience.  He also appeared in both gay and heterosexual "blue movies."

But he aspired to become a serious actor, so he studied at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts and began appearing on stage, notably in the gay-themed Boys in the Band in 1969 (presumably as the hustler hired to become a "birthday present").



His film career began in 1970, with starring roles in the thrillers The Beast in the Cellar (not as the beast), Trog (not as the rampaging caveman), and No Blade of Grass.  He also had some guest spots on tv series such as Paul Temple, The Befrienders, and Crossroads.  










But, like many bodybuilders, especially those with a "gay reputation," John found himself stuck in minor roles as threatening bad guys or inarticulate hunks.  In Tower of Evil (1972), for example, his character is introduced, takes off his clothes, flexes his muscles and gets killed, all in about thirty seconds.




Anxious for work, he agreed to star in the sex comedy Girls Come First (1975), as an artist asked to paint nude models.  Released in both hardcore and softcore versions, it was popular enough to lead to two sequels, and parts in similar movies, like Hardcore (1977).

But nothing else.  After a two-parter on Space: 1999 in 1978, he retired from acting and became a furniture refinisher.










Being so open about sex, and so nonchalant about both male and female partners, limited John's career, but left him -- and his fans -- with many fond memories.

You can see the nude photos on Tales of West Hollywood.

Apr 7, 2016

The Crosby Kids

Bing Crosby (1903-1977), roommate of gay jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, grew up to be the laid-back crooner that had 1940s teenyboppers swooning, starred in White Christmasand had six sons. Growing up as celebrity kids took its toll on them, as did Bing's harsh, authoritarian parenting style, and his insistence that they follow in his footsteps.  None of them became famous, but they had some success in the early 1960s performing as the Crosby Boys, and some of them were familiar to the Boomer generation as actors.

1. Gary (1933-1995), left, starred in some lightweight romantic comedies, such as Mardi Gras (1958) and Two Tickets to Paris (1962), and guest starred on many tv series.  In middle age he played authority figures on Adam-12 and Emergency.

2. Davis (1934-1991) acted only occasionally, notably with his brothers and the Rat Pack gang in Sergeants Three (1962).



3. Philip (1934-2004), Davis's twin brother, had two buddy bonding roles, in Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)  and None But the Brave (1965).  Coincidentally, he buddied with Rat Packer Frank Sinatra in both.



4. Lindsay (1938-1989) starred in several outlaw-biker movies, including The Glory Stompers (1967) and Bigfoot (1970).

5. Harry (born 1958), left, was best known to the Boomer Generation, playing Bill, the camp counselor who plays strip Monopoly and gets slashed in Friday the 13th (1980). He had small roles in several other movies. Today he is an investment banker.



6. Nathaniel (born 1961) (left, hugging Harry) stayed out of acting, and coincidentally the only one who has any gay rumors.  He's a professional golfer.

Inclusivity Alert: Gay References on "The Middle"!

In a jaw-dropping development, The Middle,  the most aggressively heterosexist tv program since Fringe, featured not one but two gay references in Wednesday night's episode.

In case you haven't noticed, the long-running series is about a dysfunctional working-class family in "The Middle," a small town in Indiana: dour dad Mike, perpetually-frazzled mom Frankie, college-aged Axl, over-exuberant high schooler Sue, and weird junior high schooler Brick.

In six seasons, there have been no references to gay people or same-sex desire or relationships, not one, except for an running gag about the swishy stereotype Brad, who doesn't realize that he's gay -- no one does except Mike and Frankie.

Wednesday night's episode, "Flirting with Disaster," had three plotlines.

1. Sue and Brick go to a science fiction convention.  No gay content, but you do get to see the muscular Michael Foster, who has variously played Conan, a bouncer, a Muscle-Bound Writer, and a Gay Protester.

2. Mike's father-in-law Tag asks for help with his upcoming driver's test.

Mike: "When you see someone carrying a white cane, what does it mean?"
Tag:    "That he's gay."
(Mike glares at him.)
Tag:    "What? What do they want to be called now?"
Mike:  "No, it means that he's blind!"
Tag:    "Blind and gay?  That's going to be tough!"

Ok, not bad. The elderly Tag comes across as slightly homophobic, but Mike doesn't.

3. Axl (Charlie McDermott, top photo), who I haven't been following much since he stopped hanging around in his underwear, comes home from college with a hot friend we've never heard of before, Finn (Matthew Atkinson, left).

Frankie flirts with Finn.  He responds.  She relishes her ability to still attract Cute Young Things, but then Axl tells her that Finn is "granny bait": He often uses his attractiveness to get special favors from elderly women.

Ok, it's not what you're thinking -- Axl means extra helpings of tater tots from the lunch lady.

Horrified at being labeled a "granny," Frankie decides that she'll go back to flirting with the elderly security guard at the bank: "At least she thinks I'm hot."

A throwaway line playing on our sexist presumption that security guards are always male.  But it also reveals that there are indeed gay people in Orson, Indiana, that Frankie is aware of them, and that she is completely comfortable being the object of same-sex desire.

None of the kids were around during either of the scenes; they remain unaware of the existence of gay people.  But two references in a single episode of a series that has thus far being utterly silent?  Cause for celebration.

See also: Brock Ciarlelli, the Uncle Tom of The Middle; Axl in Underwear: The Middle.




Apr 6, 2016

Carl Milles: The Swedish Sculptor of Naked Men

Carl Milles (1875-1955) is the greatest sculptor of Sweden.  Although he claimed to be heterosexual, his sculptures are imbued with homoerotic motifs.

 Many of the most homoerotic are collected or reproduced in the Millesgården, an art gallery and sculpture garden in Stockholm.

1. The Sunsinger, 1926, dedicated to the poem "Song of the Sun," by Esaias Tegnér, a 19th century bishop, translator, and founder of the Gothic League, for young patriotic men. The original lacks a head and arms.  You're not supposed to be looking at the head.





2. The Little Triton (left), half very muscular man, half fish, 1916.

3.William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, being guided by a very buffed angel, 1948.

4. Vingarne (The Wings), aka Boy with Eagle, 1908.  An interpretation of the story of Ganymede: remember that Zeus fell in love with him, and transformed into an eagle to seduce him properly, later bringing him to Olympus as his..um...cupbearer.  The first gay-themed film in Sweden was named Vingarne after this statue.

5. The Spirit of Transportation, 1952, an Indian carrying a canoe.











6. Aganippe Fountain (left), 1955, a girl being inspired by the Muses, who are all naked men.

7. The Astronomer, 1940, a naked man looking at the stars, 1940.

8. Europa and the Bull, 1942.  This time Zeus appears as a bull to seduce a woman, but in the fountain, they're surrounded by muscular naked tritons (sea gods).










9. Genius, 1923 (left): A naked muscleman playing a lyre and looking at his own butt.

10. Poseidon, 1930: another naked man, carrying a fish and a seashell, while tritons squirt water at him.

11. Skating Angels, 1948: naked boy angels.












12. God Our Father on the Rainbow, 1949.  God is quite buffed as he puts the stars in place from the end of a long bridge.

13. The Hand of God, 1953, a naked man balanced on a hand.

14. Angel Musicians, 1949-50: naked male angels playing lyres.

15. Man and Pegasus, 1949: a naked man flying alongside the flying horse.

See also: The Top 12 Public Penises of Finland


Apr 5, 2016

Frank O'Hara: Gay Poet and Lover of the 1950s

When you think of gay artists of the 20th century, the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the Violet Quill of the 1980s spring to mind.

But in between there was the New York School, a group  mostly gay, ultra-elite Harvard graduates based in New York in the late 1950s and 1960s:

Poets John Ashbery, John Schuyler,  Tom Savage, and Frank O'Hara.

Composer John Cage

Dancers Robert Dunn, Martha Graham, and David Gordon.

Artists Larry Rivers, Ernest Briggs, Albert Kotin, and William Scharf

Not as renegade as the Beats, not as openly gay as the Violet Quill, they occupied a middle ground, producing avant-garde, surreal but decidedly mainstream works, with the gay content visible to those in the know.

Frank O'Hara (1926-1966) was probably the most visible of the group -- literally.  He was photographed and painted nude several times during his life.

His poetry was personal, confessional, with gay friends and lovers mentioned obliquely:




Favorites: going to parties with you, being in corners at parties with you,
being in gloomy pubs with you smiling, poking you at parties when
you're "down," coming on like South Pacific with you at them
shrimping with you into the Russian dressing, leaving parties with
you alone to go and eat a piece of cloud.

According to his friend and former lover Joe Lesueur, he was determined to get with as many people as he could: "big guys, little guys, macho straight men, flagrantly gay men, rough trade, gay trade, friends, friends of friends, offspring of his friends, blonds, blacks, Jews, and—women."

Among his many lovers were Larry Rivers Vincent Warren (1938-), the renowned dancer Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.


On July 24, 1966, O'Hara was struck by a car on the beach at Fire Island.  He died a few hours later, leaving an army of stunned friends, lovers, and fans.















See also: The Violet Quill









Apr 3, 2016

Mr. Muscles

We all know that superhero comics were just an excuse to gawk at bodybuilders  in tight underwear, but the Mr. Muscles title was rather blatant.

It was created for the low-budget Charlton Comics company by none other than Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman.  The first issue, in 1956, was numbered #22 (talk about wishful thinking).

Former wrestler Brett Carson, the "world's most perfect man," was a blond Aryan demi-god in white shorts and a lavender vest, perfect not only in body but in soul:  "A healthy physique breeds a healthy mind," he exclaims.












The school system in the 1950s would agree.  Kids were being forced to do push-ups and sit-ups every morning before class, in the belief that exercise bred morality.











The villains had less than ample physiques.  There was rogue wrestler Jake Armbuster, the Abominable Snowman, a zookeeper with a pet tiger, and

And they hated him, not because he worked for the forces of good, but because he was in shape.













Mr. Muscles only lasted for two issues, but he still had time to acquire a teenage sidekick, Kid Muscles, who dressed in a yellow singlet.  All the time.  Presumably at school, certainly while tooling around in his 1950s convertible.










There was also a Miss Muscles, but she ony appeared in one story.

The second and last issue was devoted to a new superhero named Steeplejack.

I guess it got too hard to pretend that Mr. Muscles was there for any other reason than to let kids gawk at his muscles.

See also: Charlton Comics.



Spring 1994: Lane and I Share Two Guys at Once

Silverlake, Spring 1994

On Saturday nights when we didn't have other plans, Lane and I often went cruising.  Around 9:30, I dropped him off at the Faultline, and then drove a mile farther east to Basgo's, the Hispanic bar in Silverlake.

At 11:00 or 11:30,  I picked him up again.

Usually one or both of us had met someone, and made a date for later in the week (we would share the bedroom activities at the end, of course).

Once in a while, we couldn't wait: the guy came along, for a late-night snack at the French Quarter (to make it technically a date rather than a hookup), and then home for the bedroom activities.

You're probably wondering what happened when Lane and I both wanted to bring a guy home that night.

In two years of cruising, that only happened once.

The rest of the story is on Tales of West Hollywood

The Top 10 Public Penises of Mexico

I haven't spent a lot of time in Mexico.  I'm interested in the south, with the Aztec, Mayan, and Olmec archaeological sites, but they're over 2,000 miles away, a bit far for a summer vacation.

But northern Mexico has its attractions: bars, bathhouses, museums, and a lot of public art.

Here are the top 10 public penises of northern Mexico.


1. Guanajuato, part of the homeland of the Otomi Indians, features this statue of the very muscular Pipila, a local folk hero.
















2. Th Centro de las Artes in San Luis Potosi has two semi-nude men wearing Commedia dell'Arte masks mounting balls.


















3. Two men in flight outside an office building in Tampico,


















4. The nude, rather well-endowned Neptune holds court in Monterrey.

5. The Monument to the Founders commemorates the 17 families who decided to stay Mexican when Laredo was ceded to the U.S. in 1848.  So they crossed the river, shirtless, and founded Nuevo Laredo.

More after the break.